Francis Palgrave.

The history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) online

. (page 5 of 41)
Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

corvees, were exacted with harshness previously vLl^, under

the influence

unknown, and 'the yoke became more galling
under the influence of the new notions of

The people often accept the prestige of
being ruled immediately by the Sovereign,
as an adequate compensation for harshness,
scarcely distinguishable from tyranny. The
more exalted the Despot, the more bearable
the slavery. The Baron's clenched fist may hit
harder, but his open hand feels softer. In Nor-
mandy, the personal loyalty excited by the
Dukes is a certain test that as yet they never
had abused their power.

8 21. A lingering recollection of the Roman org7mz


administration still subsisted. Under the Empire, ^SSt
the Duumvirs were chosen in each Pagus, who, p
when convened, constituted "a municipal assem-
bly. Possibly, the institution was not wholly


996-ioos obsolete. Such elections and meetings were
now secretly revived by the Norman peasantry.
Oaths sworn ; and, as we are informed by the
Trouveur, who speaks the sentiments, which,
traditional in France, were logically deduced
from the doctrine of the "gros vilain," they
began to enquire, why and wherefore did they
allow themselves to be thus oppressed. They
told their numbers, they reckoned their strength ;
to every one of the gentlefolk, a score or more
of churls.
The Duke Whether through incautious boasting, or en-


ttTerIof dge thusiastic confidence, the crafty spy, or the
treacherous confederate, the burst of anger,
or the hilarity of drunkenness, some angry retort
or heedless jeer, the secret became known to
Duke Richard ; and soon did he learn that the
villains were erecting themselves into a " Com-
mune," a word of fear, even in those days.

Par eels ditz e par eels paroles,

E par autres, encor plus foles,

Ont tuit eel conseil graante

E sont entreseremente 1

Ke tuit ensemble se tienclront

E ensemble se defendront.

Esluz ont ne sai quels ne kanz

Des plus habiles e mieux paiianz,

Ki par tut li paiz iront

E li sermenz recevront.

* * * * *

Assez tost oi Kicliard dire,

Ke vilains commune feseient,

E ses droitures lui toldreient,

A li et as altres Seigneurs

Ki vilains ont Vavasseurs.


A revolution now commenced, which, consi- 990-1003
dered either with reference to manner or object, or
to origination and character, commencement or
termination, retraces the events and plots, and
hopes and fears, which ever and anon are re-ap-
pearing in the civilized commonwealth, as though
propagated by secret tradition. Under this great IIc WPK**

* for aid to the

strait, Richard had but one confidant whom he
could trust, Raoul, the Count of Ivri. No man bet-
ter fitted for the task of vengeance. Acute, well-
taught, born and bred amongst the country folk,
his father only an opulent churl, whilst he, Raoul,
was accepted as Premier in the land, ranking
immediately below the Sovereign. Raoul was

/ o

imbued with all the sympathies, and had absorbed
all the prejudices and antipathies, of a born
Noble. Rarely is the Parvenu blessed with the
Grace enabling him to resist the temptations inse-
parable from an exaltation often so honourable,
and sometimes so degrading. Raoul stipulated
that, supported by the Ducal cavalry, the expedi-
tion should be trusted solely to him. Thus we
have so far the satisfaction of ascertaining that
Richard is practically exonerated from active
complicity in the atrocities which ensued.

The Count of Ivri enjoyed the sport of dog-
ging the Yillainage. He fell upon the Commu-
nists ; caught them in the very fact, holding
a Lodge, swearing-in new members. Terrible
was the catastrophe. No trial vouchsafed. No
judge called in. Happy the wretch whose weight
stretched the halter. The country was visited

the command



996-ioos by fire and flame ; the rebels were scourged,
their eyes plucked out, their limbs chopped off,
they were burnt alive ; whilst the rich were im-
poverished and ruined by confiscations and fines.
Buttheuiti. In the days of the Eidgennossenschaft, club

mate result

abieTo fa t v he r " and blade and morgenstern, ultimately gained
the mastery over the shield and lance of the
Suabian chivalry. This Norman rebellion was
put down ; yet, in the long run, it fructified, both
parties learnt their lesson, and a fairly good
time was looming. Within the Federation of
Franco-Gallia, no Province or " Gouvernement "
continued so free or became so free as Nor-
mandy. When we reach the era of written evi-
dence, all absolute servitude has become obsolete.
The very Charter which designates the Terre-
tenant as a Servus guarantees his personal

Freedom of The territorial tenures in the island gems of

the Channel

tenures. Normandy, which still continue set in the British
Crown, exhibit the holdings as they subsisted,
when the continental portion of the Duchy was
wrenched from the race of Rollo ; and the vil-
lains of Guernsey and Jersey, their custumal un-
altered, were as free as any 3 T eornan could have
been in the brightest ages of old English history.

position of 8 22. The testamentary directions given


n r eph e e ws. and "by Eicharcl Sans-peur, for the establishment of
his numerous progeny, may have been partially
effected during his life-time, but so as to require
the confirmation of his successor. - - Various
doubts have been raised by genealogists and


local historians. In some cases the names of
the sons seem to be confounded, and other dis-
crepancies may have originated by territorial
exchanges ; but we are able to ascertain with
sufficient accuracy what position each individual
held, when he becomes prominent in history.

Geoffrey, who does not seem to have been counte

a child of Guenora, received the endowment succeeded 1 by

his son

of Eu and Brionue, during his father's life- Gilbert -
time. He died early in the reign of Eichard
le-Bon, leaving Gilbert, his son and heir. A
dispute had arisen between him and his uncle,
the young Duke. They were probably about
the^same age. The gallants quarrelled. Eichard
resumed the apanage. Possibly Gilbert had
either refused to perform fealty or had defied
him ; for arbitrary as a Norman Duke might be,
it is difficult to suppose that such a resumption,
of which there are other examples, could be
exercised without some colourable reason. The
young Gilbert, turbulent amongst the turbulent,
quarrelled with his ugly-named cousin Ealph
Wace or Gace, otherwise Tete-d'ane or Tete-
d'etoupe, the sobriquet possibly acquired by his
shaggy head, and Ealph slew him. Gilbert left
two sons, Eichard and Baldwin, who took refuge
in Flanders until they returned to Normandy,
under the protection of the Conqueror.

William, " the Bastard of Normandy," as he a m
is termed, like his future name -sake, by the SK

\ . Bon, from

most industrious of genealogists, Pere Anselrue, ^^ ho



996 ~ 1003 , the son of an unknown mother, received from
his brother Richard, the Hiesniois, otherwise the
County of Exmes.

Three very important towns were included
in this dotation. Exrnes, Argentan, and, pre-
eminent in every sense, the rock-crowned and
rock-crowning Falaise, at this period a most
flourishing manufacturing town, and soon des-
tined to exhibit the noblest example in Nor-
mandy of stern architectural grandeur.

and Falaise boasted of high antiquity; but we


may excuse ourselves from discussing the ques-
tions raised by the Celtic antiquaries as to
the honours there rendered to shadowy Belinus.
The Roman camp, very considerable vestiges
whereof still exist, was undoubtedly raised dur-
ing the reign of some Caesar, and, therefore, the
popular tradition which ascribes this and every
monument of the same nature to the Caesar of the
Caesars, is at least excusable. Within the grass
grown mounds of the Legions, arises the famous
Castle, the earliest specimen in Norniandv of

feudality. ' /

the huge square donjon tower, borrowed from
Maine, but which has become the very type, so
to speak, of Norman feudality. Yarious out-
works were added at subsequent times, existing
now only as rough, massy fragments.

Finely is the structure's outline varied by
Talbot's tall round Tower, which still continues
firm, unscathed, and unharmed, and either the
pattern or the model of the cognate edifice, still


surviving though dilapidated in the English 000-1003
warrior's Norfolk lordship of Caistor.

The country about Falaise is ri'ch and flou-
rishing; the pastures, abounding with flocks and
herds ; and the Flemings, then ever diligent in
seeking new fields of industry, had settled in
and about the bourg and its spreading suburbs.

Falaise drove a flourishing trade in leather, commercial

opulence of

and the rushing stream laving the rock and Falaise -
over-looked by the great Palatial Tower, had in-
vited the establishment of numerous Tanneries.
Moreover, there were extensive manufactories
of serge and other woollen stuffs, probably
introduced by Belgic industry. If tradition be
correct, the accidental discovery of a statue in the
suburb called Guibray, supposed to represent the
Virgin, had, in the Carlovingian age, suggested
the establishment in that faubourg, on the festival
of the Assumption, of an annual mercantile Fair : The fairof


whilst those devout antiquaries who profess the
Druidical persuasion, derive the name of this
locality from a Gaulish term for misletoe, and
suppose that the Fair succeeded to some Pagan

Any how, Guibray grew into importance,
and the Fair became, in Normandy, what
Stourbridge was to England. The Dukes
patronized and encouraged this mart. Charters
were granted by Eichard, and by Robert, the
Conqueror's father. The Conqueror himself,
whose name is so intimately associated with


996-ioo3 these vicinities, continued to encourage the
mart, and G-uibray-Falaise held a conspicuous
station in the map of commercial France, even
till the commencement of the present century.

23 - Whether confirmed by Eichard le-Bon,
or granted by him, such an apanage as the

brother the .

Duke. Hiesmois was a boon well deservin Count

William's gratitude ; but his riches and power
encreased his pride and haughtiness. Sum-
moned repeatedly to render his services due
for his fief, he as repeatedly made default.
Woe betide him ! Raoul, Count of Ivri, was at
hand, and he advised the Duke to proceed
against the rebel by military execution.

Unrestrained either by tenderness of heart
or connexion in blood, the sturdy Bear-hunter
went forth : and in proportion to the offence,
and the quality of the offender, the chastisement
was as rough as the punishment he had inflicted
on the peasantry.

William was cast into prison. Rollo's tall
Tower at Rouen detained his descendant in penal
captivity ; but the prisoner's partizans were nu-
merous and annoying, and the disturbances con-
tinued flickering until put down by Raoul d'lvri's
resolution ; and many were the adherents of
William who escaped the gallows only by fleeing
the country. Hard was his captivity, bolts and
fetters bound him, till at length he escaped
by swarming down a long rope, supplied, as it
was reported, by a fair and compassionate hand.


A break-neck exploit, successfully accom- 996-1003
plishcd. But William's strem-hts recommenced


with his 1 i 1 x _ ration. The Ivri hounds were always ESSS
close at his heels, until, weary of his hunted life,
he determined to implore mercy. He guessed
where of all places his brother could best be
addressed, most pleased and most placable ; not
in the Palace, not at Church, but plaguing the
beasts, as he William, was plagued, disporting
amongst the merry green wood shades: and
William sought him in the Forest of Yerneuil.

He cast himself at Richard's feet, telling
the tale of his trials and sufferings. The some-
what frequent recurrence of such a dramatic
situation as in the case of Otho and Liudolph,
may perhaps lead to the supposition that the
encounter was concerted, to save the honour of
both parties.

William obtained an unconditional pardon ;
and more than pardon, grace and favour. The
Hiesmois was not restored, but, in full com- He rccc!v <*

the count

pensation, his brother Eichard granted him,
as a guerdon, the lapsed County of Eu. Our
old English authorities spell the name " Owe"
or "Ewe;" and, with Eu, William received
the hand of Thurkettle's lovely daughter Elce,
Alice, or Lescelina, who, as the story runs,
helped him in his evasion. The descendants
of this marriage became prominent in Anglo-

_ T i

JNorman history. Amongst them we find Hugh,
the sagacious Bishop of Lisieux ; Robert, who
VOL. in. E




096-1003 commenced Ms career by affording important
assistance to the appointed Conqueror of Eng-
land, in the great Battle of Mortemer, and
who was rewarded by those extensive domains
in the County of Sussex, known as the Honour
of Eu ; and Robert's son William, (in France
called William Busac,) enriched, like his father,
by the spoils of the Anglo-Saxon, and, who came
to a fearful end.

Henceforward, we are constantly gaining
nearer views of England.





and Duke


1. IT is needful, in the first instance,
to exhibit Eobert of France, and Richard the
Norman, in the respective relations of Suzerain
and Vassal. Yet, not merely bound by formal
oaths and legal covenants, but cordial friends,
actuated by community of interest and sincere
feeling. Richard, without renouncing in any
wise that connexion with the Scandinavian
nationalities which his father had maintained,
nay, diligently cultivating their amity and
alliance, was thoroughly a Frenchman ; and
though he did not entertain any serious appre-
hension either of his avowed or secret enemies,
he needed that countenance which the King of
France could alone bestow. Moreover, King-
Robert well deserved esteem and affection.

Huo-h Capet's anxiety to accelerate Robert's H Ug hca-

]>et"s anxiety

Coronation within the year, was sagaciously

motived, being evidently dictated by the con-

Ill t V.

E 2


996-1024 sciousness that, though his mental powers con-
tinued undiminishedj his bodily strength was
waning away.

edition. Very carefully had Robert been trained; Grer-

w n orth. ora bert, his instructor. From such an intriguing
Master of arts a royal Pupil might have learnt
over-much ; but Robert improved himself by his
Preceptor's lore, without imbibing any of the
Philosopher's political perversions. So long as
Hugh Capet lived, Robert offered a character
rare in history : an Heir of whom the Parent
had no real reason to be jealous ; a son in joint
seizin of the Palace with his paternal Sovereign,
against whom no well grounded suspicion ever
arose ; a father and a child between whom no
grudge was permanent. Robert ruled as his
father's co-equal, sat by his father's side. The
Royal charters ran in their conjoint names.
Hugh directed the councils of the Realm ; Robert
obeyed his father's voice when that father had
descended to the abode of silence ; and the
course of government adopted by the primal
Capets, enabled their lineage, from father to son,
to possess the throne for a period approximating
to a Chiliad, nor has a male child of the loins
of Robert le-Fort ever failed.
Hughie. 2. Hugh Capet's policy was grounded


funded u P n unity. He did not proclaim any plan for

tr p aHzat e io~ n . the future, but provided for the future through

the present. Having been raised to the throne

by feuds and internal dissensions, he had felt

their evil, and he guided himself by his father's


doctrine and example. We have heard how 096-1024
Hugh le-Grand based the existence of the body
politic upon the doctrine of mutual relationship,
"Commendation," accepted as the bond of the
Commonwealth ; no man to be masterless ; all de-
pendant upon the Sovereign as the central orb :
the theory which feudalized the Kingdom. The
antieut constitutional maxims of the Realm,
enabled the son to effectuate the father's designs.
The tranquillity of Hugh Capet's reign was the
result of internal activity. The bright Lilies uugh
were growing in the darkness of the night ; the
next reign exhibited their full budding beneath
the azure sky. Ntilfe terre sanz Seigneur be-
came an incontrovertible legal position. Under F ? udal doc -

O tnnes of

Hugh Capet, arose the Court of Peers, before

and content-
ment of

trines of

which tribunal any offending Peer was to answer Ca P et -
the complaint or accusation of the Sovereign.
Moreover, it was now accepted as a fundamental
principle that no crown-vassal could lawfully
carry on war, otherwise than immediately under
his Sovereign, or by royal command.

3. The respect shewn to the Sovereign,
the nation's choice ; and the indomitable firmness
of the Ruler, were so efficient, that, save and
except the last struggles with the expiring Car-
lovingian dynasty, no attempt was made during
Hugh Capet's reign, to raise a hand or wag the
tongue against him : and the Historian scarcely
finds an event to record. A dull narrative,
when the historian or biographer has next to
nothing to say ; neither to deplore the calamity


996-1024 nor exult in the glory, is, perhaps the most
assured token of national as it is of individual
happiness. Rest, is promised to Man as the
highest felicity.

Amongst the few incidents exhibiting Hugh
Capet's ethos, one may be noticed as elucidating


both the man and his times. Royal Strongholds
or Castles were not yet numerous, but Hugh
availed himself of the prevailing quiescence, for
the purpose of adopting precautions against dis-
content, by raising fortifications throughout the
country ; and, in one instance, Hugh did so under
circumstances which rendered the transaction
peculiarly memorable.

or^fJuTof " Every Ecclesiastical Foundation, and every
Ecclesiastical Person or Parson was consorted
with a Protector or Patron under the name of
"Advocatus," whose duty was to stand up for
the Community or the Clerk, in the right or
in the wrong, whether in peace or in war, in
the Court of Justice or in the Field. This
obligation constituted the " Advocatio" or " Ad-
vowson," a lot so often put up for sale at the
Auction mart, and cheered when it is announced
that the income, "capable of considerable en-
crease," reaches four figures ; the estimate ac-
companied by the smiling comment that the
clerical duty is in the inverse proportion,-
corruptio optimi est pessima, and, with this old
adage, nothing the worse for wear, our morali-
zation begins and ends.

The " Advocatus" of the Bishop and of the


Bishopric was usually the Sovereign. The "Ad-
vocatus" of the Monastery, the Sovereign or the
Count, or some other tall nobleman. The Baron
or Lord of the Demesne or Manor was the natural
Advocatus of the parochial Priest and Parson-
age, for which arduous duty he was to be recom-
pensed in prayers. But, from time immemorial
we have traces, more or less distinct, that, either
in meal or in malt, in pence or in power, the
Advocatus generally contrived to gain some fur-
ther advantage from the protection he bestowed.
According to the established cast of French
historical characters, there are eras, especially
the mediaeval, when the national Clio impera-
tively requires for her epos a "Prbtre cafard"
and a Roi super stitieux, or some equivalent
great puppet, whose strings are pulled by the
Cafards, if a King cannot be found : just as
the Gallic Melpomene comes to a standstill in
her domestic drama, if she lacks a "Pere Noble"
and a "Jeune inqenue"


We are therefore consistently taught by mod-
ern French Historians to contemplate Hugh
Capet simply as the Sovereign of the Priests,
and that his chief, if not only, business was to
grant land to religious Houses, he being en-
slaved by bigoted devotion. But the attributes
thus assigned to the Capet are consequential
upon the conventional mode of delineating his
portrait, which, however it may conform to
popular, and therefore welcome, ideas, is merely
an imagination, adopted in order that the Monarch


990-1024 may be painted iu keeping with the theatrical
Hugh background. A very curious contradiction to

as this ascribed fatuity is found in Hugh's dealings

Patron with

of e saint peity W ^h the great Monastery of Saint Riquier, a
house of Royal foundation and under his pecu-
liar advowsonship.

The Pouthieu coast being dangerously open,
equally to the invasion of the Danes and the
hostile projects of Flanders, keen military dis-
cernment suggested to Hugh Capet, that, in or
near the estuary of the Somme, not far above
the too famous Saint Valeri, there were three
farms or domains belonging to the Abbey,
adjoining each other, which could be united
as an excellent out-work against any enemies of
the French Crown: that is to say "Encre,"
" Saint Medard," and a villa or township spe^
cially called the " Abbot's villa." The said
three "Mansi" King Hugh seized for the good
of the State ; and caused to be encircled with
walls and towers ; and such was the origin of the
flourishing town of Abbatis-villa, or Abbeville.
The Monks groaned at the usurpation of their
property ; but they could not resist ; and we
are left to conjecture whether the Advocatus
gave them any compensation.

of ra Hugh hty Taken as a whole, the temporal policy, steadily


rei s n - and acutely pursued by the Founder of the Third
race, is to be estimated by its effects : and
Robert, conjoining the statesman's ability with
the warrior's boldness and the monk's humility,
was enabled to assume his right by survivorship,


without disturbance or opposition. He came 990-1024
into sole possession of the Kingdom as though it
were a private estate. So tranquil, indeed, was
Robert's accession, that the event was scarcely
noticed by the Chroniclers.

4. G-erbert's scholar had profited tho- Eobert ' s

talent as a

roughly by his Preceptor's lessons ; but Robert po<
possessed an uuteachable talent. Though the
Troubadours might be preparing to raise their
voices ; no real genius had, as yet, been ex-
hibited in poesy, save in the highest application
which that transcendent gift can receive. Many
of Robert's compositions are extant, displaying
equal harmony and feeling some continued to
be sung at Saint Denis till the Revolution ; the
Veni Sancte fytiritus for example, not to be con-
founded with the Veni Creator Spiritus, the last
being ever pre-eminent amongst the magnificent
Pentecostal Hymns.

Robert's charity was unbounded ; and, com-
bined with all these loftier endowments, he was
distinguished by the seductive faculty of drollery
and whimsical humour. The anecdotes exempli-
fying this idiosyncracy, for which he loved him-
self, are numerous. One prank, played off at
Rome, may be selected as an example. Kino- Robert's

~ humouristic

Robert entered the Choir of Saint Peter's Basilica sim P licit >'-
bearing a chalice, which he deposited reverently
upon the High Altar ; in it, a parchment scroll
covered with writing, conspicuously peering above
the rim. A grant without doubt of some impor-
tant domain may be a Duchy, and why not the


996-W24 Realm, thought (we may fancy) the expectant
Pope and Cardinals hopefully rubbing their hands.
Scarcely able to restrain their curiosity, they
rushed up the gradients, as soon as Robert had
descended, to peruse the deed of donation. Alas,
for their disappointment ! though the parchment
was inscribed with what Robert valued more
than house or land. Could such a thing as copy-
right have existed in those days, the Pope and
Cardinals would have acquired the property of
Robert's famous chaunt, " Cornelius Ceniurio"

Let us excuse the vanity of the Author,
and view Robert as a Sovereign. Resolute, pru-

Online LibraryFrancis PalgraveThe history of Normandy and of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 41)